Just before the summer our washing machine died. When you aren’t putting a load on everyday you’ll be surprised how much washing you pile up. Luckily there’s a laundrette in our village, nestled between the hairdressers and a cafe. Launderettes to me are a community hub. Think Dot Cotton in Eastenders, she provided a comforting ear, cups of tea and a shoulder to cry on. Mine in stark contrast was filled with high tech machines that I had no idea how to use although each one seemed to be spinning like mad and there was a severe lack of staff members.
What made launderettes so popular? Automatic washing machines were a luxury item so when the first laundrette opened in Britain, in 1949 it revolutionised the process of washing your clothes. Laundry beforehand involved boiling, scrubbing, rinsing and mangling before hanging out to dry, can you even imagine that palavour.
It’s easy to see how laundrettes became a community hub, where housewives could get together, make friends and socialise. Women have always been good at developing a support network. People to help them in their time of need, whether that be when you first become a parent or need to use the laundrette for the first time. Women are good at seeking out individuals to help them along the way. Imagine how many business ideas and inventions were dreamt up over chats whilst waiting for your smalls to finish.
Where’s Your Community Hub?
Whether you work from home or are employed do you have a community hub you can go to? Somewhere you can access information and support, make friends and meet with other small business owners? Obviously I’m not suggesting you start hanging out in launderettes but way back in 2009 Networking Mummies (now rebranded as The Family Network) was thought up at toddler group, by two mums wanting to network around their young families. Having a support network/tribe is really important and it’s easier than you think to develop one.
- Find out where like minded individuals hang out. Social media is a great way to find other people like you.
- Building your tribe online is just as important as offline. Both have different strengths, but it is important to get out and away from the computer and interact with real people.
- Use every opportunity to network. Everytime you interact with someone is an opportunity to develop your tribe.
- Try different things. I network in a various ways as I love the variety. Once a month I formally network (Lemur Linkup), netwalking – walking and networking what’s not to love, Self-employed Team Building Social a fun activity to merge socialising, networking and learning a new skill. Meeting up with small business friends in cafes to co-work and also going to creative events (colouring workshops/art classes) all this variety helps me to balance my need to be around others, my wellbeing and creativity but also help grow and develop my small business.
- Treat others how you want to be treated. If you want to develop a support network, you need to provide others with support too. Worried you have nothing to offer? You’re new to the whole business thing, never underestimate the power of listening.
Developing my own community hub has not only provided me with help, support, advice and guidance but also friendships. Ones that in some cases I’m able to share with my children. Having people around you to hold your hand, cheer you on is the biggest strength your small business can have.
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